Ex-D.C. Council Member Harold Brazil Convicted of Assaulting Tattoo Shop Manager

Former D.C. Council member Harold Brazil, right, talks to reporters after his conviction. At left is lawyer G. Allen Dale.
Former D.C. Council member Harold Brazil, right, talks to reporters after his conviction. At left is lawyer G. Allen Dale. (By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)
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By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 2, 2009

Former D.C. Council member Harold Brazil was convicted yesterday of assaulting the manager of a Georgetown tattoo shop in a nighttime brawl last fall.

Brazil stood quietly as D.C. Superior Court Judge Jennifer M. Anderson announced her verdict. He had just one statement before sentencing: "I request no lockup."

The 60-year-old lawyer, a council member from 1991 through 2005, could have been jailed for as long as six months on the misdemeanor charge. The judge gave him a 90-day term but suspended the time on the condition that he completes six months of unsupervised probation.

Brazil was accused of attacking the manager of the Jinx Proof Tattoo Parlor during an Oct. 9 fight at the shop, in the 3200 block of M Street NW. Prosecutors accused him of acting in a drunken rage. Brazil said that he was the victim and that the manager and two shop employees beat him.

He said he plans to appeal.

The judge, who heard testimony in a trial last month, ruled that Brazil started the fight, giving more credibility to the accounts of the tattoo parlor employees than to Brazil and the two women who were with him that night.

"This is a situation that got out of control," she declared.

Although Anderson questioned much of the testimony, some facts were not in dispute: Brazil, his secretary and a female friend had drinks that evening at Smith and Wollensky. Then they headed to the tattoo parlor. The friend went to the back of the store to get a tattoo. When Brazil's secretary tried to check on her, the shop's manager objected and pointed to a sign that said only patrons getting tattoos were permitted in that area. Brazil then got into the middle of a dispute.

The manager, Francis Bradley Payton V, told police that Brazil hit him, an allegation that led to Brazil's arrest that night. During his testimony, Payton said Brazil swung at him and missed.

Brazil testified that he was simply coming to his secretary's aid when he was attacked by Payton and two shop employees, thrown to the floor, punched, kicked and put in a chokehold. Brazil, complaining of pains in his head, neck and right knee, was taken to a hospital. He testified that he "almost got killed."

Conflicting accounts also emerged about Brazil's state. During the altercation, Brazil urinated on himself, which prosecutors said was a sign of his drunkenness.

In his testimony, Brazil denied being drunk and said he had had two glasses of wine. His attorney, G. Allen Dale, said it was the beating, not the wine, that caused Brazil to lose control of his bladder.

Brazil, who is black, also said the shop's manager, who is white, called him a racial epithet. The manager denied making such remarks, and no witnesses alerted police of such a statement.

In rendering her decision, Anderson recounted how she was struck by the testimony of Petra Ann Nikolow, Brazil's friend and defense witness who was getting her name tattooed on her shoulder that night. During the trial, Nikolow described Brazil as a gentle and kind "teddy bear" and testified that he was beaten by the shop employees. But when police arrived, Nikolow told the officers in a statement that Brazil "overreacted."

After the hearing, Brazil said he was disappointed with the outcome.

"I'm incredulous that she found them more credible than me," Brazil said, adding that he wished the case had been heard by a jury instead of a judge. Judges typically hear such misdemeanor trials.

Brazil also called the entire case a "waste of taxpayers' money."

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